Getting Emotional with Movies, Part 7: Exhilaration
Let it all out with Sadness before going full-throttle into Exhilaration…
EXHILARATION (Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves Edition)
WARNING: Some of the video clips in this article contain violence and/or harsh language.
Probably the first truly invigorating display of female power I saw in a film was this immortal scene from Adventures in Babysitting. The remarkable Elisabeth Shue brandishes a ten pound pair of cojones in the face of overwhelming danger:
With that movie, a seed was planted deep within me that has grown into a bountiful appreciation for strong women characters. Such as Keira Knightley in The Duchess, where she takes a valiant stand against Ralph Fiennes and the 18th century male-dominated society that oppresses her (while wearing some lovely period costumes). Or Angela Winkler in The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, who teaches an unscrupulous reporter what happens when a man slanders a woman’s reputation. And let’s not forget Day of the Warrior, where Julie Strain wrestles for truth and justice:
Here are some more movies about formidable femmes that thrill and excite, arranged under two of my favorite categories:
The Good and Evil Side of Exotic Dancing: Snake Dancer and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Glenda Kemp is a conservative religious woman who also happens to be a trailblazing exotic dancer who scandalized South Africa in the 70’s. In this 2005 Times LIVE article, she claims that she didn’t even like snakes. Watching the (sort of) biopic Snake Dancer, in which she plays herself, it’s hard to believe that she didn’t enjoy their company just a little. I don’t know how much of the movie is an accurate representation of her life (the ending definitely isn’t), but she’s not shy with her reptilian co-performers.
Snake Dancer reminds me a lot of The Notorious Bettie Page, since both movies are based on actual women who caused an uproar by exposing their bodies (here’s the Flickchart matchup). Glenda Kemp and Bettie Page are portrayed in the films as otherwise modest women who were trained as teachers, but ended up taking a different career path. The only major difference is that Kemp took up exotic dancing while Page worked as a bondage model. They both insist that there is nothing prurient about their chosen professions.
Anyway, what makes Snake Dancer fun is that Glenda Kemp is a really enthusiastic and lithe performer backed up with some infectious music. The movie isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t have a problem with watching a woman dance around naked with a snake (or hand puppets), it’s a good show. Below is a sampler from the Snake Dancer soundtrack, if you feel like getting funky:
Unlike Snake Dancer, which is about a wholesome exotic dancer, the women in Faster, Pussycat! are anything but. Trash-talking, hard-living, dangerous to themselves and others… I suppose Glenda Kemp is the kind of exotic dancer that you marry, while the trio in Faster, Pussycat! are the kind that you run away from. Tura Satana (1938-2011) plays the leader of the wild gang of Go Go dancers who get involved in murder and mayhem. The opening is one of the greatest for any movie:
If you’ve never seen a Russ Meyer epic, Faster, Pussycat! is the best introduction. It’s not loaded with sex and nudity like his later efforts, so you could even probably watch it with your grandmother in the room. The dialogue is snappy and there’s good amount of gritty violence directed at both men and women, so nobody gets left out.
There is a certain charm to watching women shooting and punching people that the primarily male action movies lack. It is true that the most extraordinary action movie massacre ever filmed was perpetrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. No credible movie aficionado disputes that.
However, there are plenty of films where women are shown to be almost as proficient at maiming and killing their fellow human beings. What I like in particular about Virgins from Hell and Angel of Destruction is not only the hilariously brutal fight scenes, but also the general atmosphere of insanity.
Here’s an excerpt from the first fight scene in Virgins from Hell. It is but only a hint of the madness that is to come.
This is one of many scenes in which a woman beats a bunch of men senseless in Angel of Destruction:
His gun might be bigger, but her aim is true:
There is one scene in Angel of Destruction where Maria Ford roughs up some guys while topless, but I’m not sure if that’s supposed to contain a message of female empowerment or not.
I’ll leave you with this rousing feminist anthem:
Come back on Tuesday when we’ll reflect on how life doesn’t always work out with Regret.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Chad as kingofpain on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.